UPDATE 12:45 am: Sports By Brooks, which broke the story, has this update:
SbB has learned Chris Broussard & Jon Barry won’t returm to ESPN’s NBA studio. Added to show: @sportsguy33 & Stan Van Gundy
Which means the lineup would be Mike Wilbon and Magic Johnson as holdovers with ESPN’s Sports Guy Bill Simmons and Stan Van Gundy. That has potential (frankly, I would have dropped Magic, too, he’s not good in this role). It should be better than the old pregame/halftime studio show, but that’s not much of a bar to clear.
TNT is still the model to beat.
8:40 am: I don’t know if this is really true, but I hope that it is.
There have been rumors that ESPN has been looking to shake up its rather staid pregame/halftime NBA studio show. Now we get this tweet from Sports By Brooks:
SbB has learned @sportsguy33 & Stan Van Gundy will host retooled ESPN NBA studio show in LA this season
For the record, @sportsguy33 is the twitter handle of ESPN “Sports Guy” Bill Simmons. He is their most popular Internet writer, the guy behind Grantland and the suits at ESPN have looked for a way to use him more on television.
Word of caution, take this rumor with a grain of salt. Or, maybe a whole box of Kosher salt. It’s interesting and it’s out there — and certainly Sports By Brooks does have contacts — but we’re not sure how real this is yet.
If true, I don’t know how good that pairing would be, but it has potential. The current ESPN studio show — with Magic Johnson, Jon Barry, Chris Broussard and Mike Wilbon — is dull. It lacks chemistry.
The best studio show remains TNT’s Inside the NBA. Even with Shaquille O’Neal as an anchor on it. The combination of Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson is fantastic — they are both funny and can be insightful. Chris Webber fits in well as a fourth on that show.
It’s night and day when you compare ABC’s studio show to TNT’s. Simmons and Van Gundy (the recently released Magic coach and brother of ESPN color analyst Jeff Van Gundy) have potential though to be funny — both have great senses of humor — and to have good basketball talk as well.
I’d tune in and give it a chance at least.